federal regulations

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) has been waiting for this day for a long time. In Kisor v. Wilkie the Supreme Court will decide whether to overturn Auer deference to federal agencies.

In Auer v. Robbins (1997) the Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. (1945) that courts must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of its own regulations (even if that interpretation is articulated for the first time in an amicus brief during litigation).

State and local governments have long been critical of Auer deference of a number of reasons. First, it gives agencies a lot of authority in every area in which any agency regulates. Second, Auer deference negatively affects state and local governments because they are regulated by federal agencies and regulate in the same space as federal agencies.

The Court’s grant of this petition isn’t all that surprising. Neither will it be surprising if the Court overturns Auer deference. Recently, all five of the conservative Justices, except Justice Kavanaugh—perhaps only due to his short tenure on the Court, have either written or joined an opinion criticizing Auer deference or agency deference more generally.

A federal district judge in Texas has invalidated Obama overtime regulations which would have made it more likely states and local governments would have had to pay more employees overtime.

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), executive, administrative, and professional “white collar” employees do not have to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Per Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, adopted shortly after the FLSA was adopted in 1938, employees must perform specific duties and earn a certain salary to be exempt from overtime as white collar employees.

On May 23, 2016, DOL issued final rules nearly doubling the previous salary level test for white collar employees from $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year. The rules also automatically update the salary level every three years for white collar employees.

President Trump’s “2 for 1” executive order where for every federal regulation proposed two must be “identified” for repeal, unsurprisingly, has been criticized by some and applauded by others. Per the executive order, for every regulation added the cost of the new regulation must be offset by eliminating two regulations.

Those who are for the executive order argue it will be good for the economy. Those who are against it argue most regulations exist for good reason and eliminating regulations like “limiting lead in drinking water and cutting pollution from school buses” will harm Americans. Those opposing the executive order also argue it is arbitrary to eliminate regulations based solely on cost without considering benefit.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to get rid of numerous federal regulations adopted by the Obama Administration. Impossible many say. If there is one man who may be able to make this happen it is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Three of the most important regulations to state and local government were the subject of litigation likely headed to the Supreme Court before Trump was elected:  the Clean Power Plan (CPP) (President Obama’s signature climate change measure), the regulations defining “waters of the...

President-elect Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that one of the goals of his new administration is to get rid of federal regulations. Despite the fact that the new administration has a menu of options to kill final federal regulations the most effective options are likely the most difficult to achieve.

This blog posting uses as examples three of the most important regulations to state and local government—all of which are on the chopping block:  the Clean Power Plan (CPP) (President Obama’s signature climate change measure), the regulations defining “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) (a significant term in the Clean Water Act defining the federal government’s jurisdiction to regulate water), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations (extending overtime pay to 4 million workers).

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